Startups Should Collaborate

Startups should collaborate, Wozniak tells Business Leaders

Greetings WOW members and Web Professionals everywhere.

Whether you’re an enterprise level Web professional within the technical, creative or business side of the profession, working for yourself or small to medium sized Web companies, please take a minute consider some *really* sound advice regarding collaboration that came out of an IT event in California last week.

According to the Sacramento Bee, Apple Computer Inc. co-founder Steve Wozniak brought his upbeat message about the power of innovation to Sacramento, CA last Friday, saying collaboration, not cutthroat competition, is a key to the growth of the region’s high-tech sector.

Speaking before 600 local business and community leaders at downtown’s Hyatt Regency Hotel, the high-tech pioneer urged local startups to build networks and alliances within their community.

“It’s not so much ‘Oh my gosh everybody is a threat,’ ” said Wozniak, the keynote speaker for the Sacramento Area Regional Technology Alliance’s annual Tech Index luncheon.

“Try to get more and more of the networking or threads … between your company and some other companies,” he said. “Even if you’re going in the same direction, make the good things happen for the world and you’ll all have huge successes.”

Wozniak’s message comes as Sacramento’s tech sector remains a niche player in a regional economy dominated by big government and real estate.

But in recent years, it’s become one of the area’s faster growing sectors.

SARTA said its technology index – which measures sales, employee growth and investment activity at 50 local tech companies – grew about 25 percent during the 12 months ending Sept. 30, 2010.

During the third quarter of 2010, the companies that make up the index added a total of 100 new jobs, added Meg Arnold, SARTA’s CEO.

“This shows remarkable strength during a very difficult time,” she said. Some of that growth can be attributed to the type of collaboration advocated by Wozniak.

Examples include local software maker Synergex International Corp., which helped “incubate” a number of promising local startups at its Gold River headquarters in recent years.

In 2002, the company agreed to lease excess office space and provide administrative support to Altergy Freedom Power, in exchange for company stock. Altergy is now a leading manufacturer of low-cost fuel cells.

Glue Networks Inc., a locally based cloud networking firm, credited support from SARTA for introducing the company to investor groups that have recently raised $4.5 million for the company.

“You can create success in Sacramento,” said Jeff Gray, Glue Networks’ CEO. “The only thing we need to do is believe in ourselves.”

During his speech, Wozniak talked about how innovation at Apple helped usher in the revolution in personal computing.

Wozniak and Steve Jobs co-founded Apple in 1976 with the proceeds of the sales of Wozniak’s Hewlett-Packard calculator and Jobs’ Volkswagen bus. The duo initially tried to sell a low-cost personal computer to Wozniak’s then-employer Hewlett-Packard Co., but Wozniak said they were turned down five times.

After launching the Apple I computer, they received $50,000 in orders, for which they built the computers in 10 days with parts that they received on 30 days’ credit, he said.

Wozniak said experiences from Apple’s early days provide an important lesson for today’s startups.

“Look around for what you can do with the money you do have and … don’t think you can go to the moon on Day One,” he said.

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